A line in a novel recently jumped off the page: “The people were pleasant enough, but Beth had felt judged in a thousand subtle ways, simply for wanting to be herself” (in Forbidden by Claire Wright with GP Taylor).
Have you ever felt like that? Like you’re just that bit different than the “in” crowd? Or when you walk into a crowded room boasting a lot of unknown faces, you wonder whether you’ll be accepted or whom you’ll talk to?
I have. But then I’m an introvert, and I haven’t always felt at home in my skin. I’ll probably always have to take a deep breath before entering new social or work situations. If I let the fear of the unknown get to me, I could easily descend into the muck of feeling like I’m the sad loner without friends. So, if I remember, I affirm a few truths with a simple breathing exercise. As I inhale deeply, I tell myself that I’ve been made in the image of God, and that through his Holy Spirit he dwells inside me. Then as I exhale, I shoot up an arrow prayer that God would lead me to just the right people to talk with – perhaps those who might be feeling on the edge of things themselves.
That simple exercise reorients me, and I feel like I’ve put on a pair of God-infused glasses. All of the sudden I can see others as God’s amazing creations and I want to know more about them: what makes them tick; what they’re passionate about; how they find meaning. As the evening progresses, my smile grows and I may hear some astounding stories. All from stepping away from fear and stepping into the woman God created me to be.
Of course, we live in an imperfect world, and sometimes the evening ends with me wondering why I didn’t have many God-encounters. Or why I still felt self-conscious, like I am watching myself from the outside. Or in the words of Forbidden, that novel I mentioned, “People just didn’t ‘get’ her. Rich hadn’t understood that part, but of course, he wouldn’t. His face already fitted.”
If I take the time to reflect, I again realize that I have to root my identity in being God’s beloved. He has formed me as a beautiful crystal vase that reflects his light and glory. If I’m not receiving his love and affirmation, I might let the water inside the vase get stagnant or grey. But when I ask him to pour in his living water, he displaces all that is dirty and mucky. And in that vase he even places some gorgeous flowers from which waft his sweet fragrance.
Do you feel at home in your skin? Why or why not? If not, what do you do to combat these feelings?